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Paramount Studios presents

Ghost (1990)

"I am Henry the Eigth I am, I am, I am...." (repeated)- Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze)

Stars: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore
Other Stars: Tony Goldwyn, Whoopi Goldberg
Director: Jerry Zucker

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language
Run Time: 02h:06m:35s
Release Date: 2001-04-24
Genre: romance

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

When it comes to sappy love stories I am not the guy to come to for discussion on how great they are. I have had a long string of girlfriends who feel as though it is a natural birthright to seek out every romance film as they drag me along. While I generally tend to resist with every ounce of strength I have, there are—occasionally—a few films that strike a chord with me. One of those films is Jerry Zucker's Ghost, a movie that goes beyond the standard Hollywood romance genre and creates not only a story that is involving but characters that are believable.

Sam (Swayze) and Molly (Moore) are a seemingly happy New York couple deeply in love. While walking to their new apartment after a night out they encounter a thief in a dark alley, and Sam is murdered. He immediately finds himself to be a ghost and realizes that his death was no accident. Knowing he must warn Molly of her impending peril, he communicates with her through Oda Mae Brown (Goldberg), a psychic whose life is then also in danger after "contacting" Sam.

There is an old joke that the dead spend five percent of their time watching the living, and the other ninety five percent watching the living in the shower. While there has yet to be a film version of that joke with a rating that doesn't contain more X's in it than my bowling score, Ghost instead focuses its attention on the dead taking care of unfinished business. And while it has been done before, Ghost takes this a step further by throwing a love story into the mix. For the most part, it isn't a bad idea for a movie. But unfortunately, Ghost wants to have its cake and eat it too, and the tender moments that push the film into a higher echelon of quality fade away with a silly thriller angle.

What is most puzzling about Ghost are the questions about the plot long after the credits role. For instance, what is Sam still doing "walking" around on earth? Is he in the waiting room for heaven? Or does he have to first protect Molly from danger before he goes into his afterlife? These questions, along with many others, are what plagues Ghost, keeps it from being better than it could be.

The most surprising aspect of Ghost is the eclectic crew behind the camera. The combination of writer Bruce Joel Rubin (Brainstorm) and director Jerry Zucker (Top Secret!) may seem an unlikely combination for a romance film, yet the two pull off their duties with aplomb. Zucker moves Ghost along at a nice pace and even creates a few moments of humor.

While it is nearly certain that neither Patrick Swayze nor Demi Moore will ever win an Oscar® for their motion picture work, Ghost does represent their best. Swayze, an actor I normally despise (considering his work in Dirty Dancing), plays Sam with a sense of confusion and self-assuredness at the same time, and it works. Moore goes through the film with a heavy amount of sadness, which is appropriate, and there are very few scenes where she isn't crying. Whoopi Goldberg, who has won numerous awards for her work, is tolerable as the psychic Oda Mae Brown, and it can be said that she is the best thing about the movie.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The new anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer for Ghost is easily the best this film has ever looked. Colors are perfect throughout with the darker shades coming off very well defined and the vibrant colors looking very crisp and alive. Aside from a few moments of grain at the start of the film, sharpness and detail are each very good. Edge enhancement and pixelation are never a problem. This is a surprisingly good transfer from the folks at Paramount.

Image Transfer Grade: A

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English and Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Along with a new image transfer, Ghost has been given a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The front channels are easily the most impressive, with Maurice Jarre's score getting the lion's share of attention. There are even several occasions where the split surrounds add to the story greatly. Dialogue is also very clear and easy to understand.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Featuring a new audio commentary track with director Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin, the extra features for Ghost are not plentiful, but what is included is quite interesting. Zucker who not only has a terrific sense of humor, but also has a few interesting stories about the production of the film dominates, for the most part, the commentary track. Rubin comes off a little less gracefully; at times he seems to ramble on about nothing pertaining to the film at all. For what it is worth, his stories are interesting.

Ghost: Remembering The Magic is an entertaining twenty-two minute documentary remembering the film and its success. Zucker, Rubin and Patrick Swayze each participate with Demi Moore showing up in original interviews from 1990. While it is a bit on the light side, it is worth a look.

The films theatrical trailer is also included.

Extras Grade: B+

Final Comments

For all of the problems I have with Ghost, none seem to keep me from recommending it. It is a very well-made and well-acted picture and this new DVD from Paramount is rewarding.

Kevin Clemons 2001-04-24